Thanks to our partnership with Shout, anyone in the UK can text NATTER to 85258 to access free, 24/7 text support. Your text will be answered by trained volunteers and it’s confidential unless they’re concerned about your safety.
We know it can feel difficult to reach out for support, especially if it’s the first time you’ve spoken about something. You might have questions about how NATTER works or what will happen.
We’ve gathered some of the most frequently asked questions about NATTER to help you decide whether it’s right for you.
How it all works
Who can text NATTER to 85258?
Anyone in the UK can text NATTER. The service is designed to support people in immediate distress to help them get to a calmer moment. Volunteers can empower you with support and techniques to take your next steps to feeling better and signpost you to further support.
What happens when you text NATTER to 85258?
First, you’ll get some automated messages to let you know you’re being connected to a volunteer and ask you a bit more about what’s going on. The aim is for everyone to be connected to a volunteer within five minutes, but you might have to wait a bit longer if the service is especially busy.
Once you’re connected, the volunteer will introduce themselves. You can text back and forth with them (they use Shout’s secure online platform so they can’t see your phone number). The volunteers are there to listen and help you discover the next steps you can take to feel calmer and safer.
Is NATTER only for people who are thinking about harming themselves or ending their life?
No, NATTER is for everyone in the UK. People get in touch for lots of different reasons; the volunteers are there to provide support and guidance no matter what you’re going through. Some of the common reasons young people get in touch include grief, bullying, stress, struggling with their body image, and mental health worries like low mood or anxiety. If you want to talk about something else, that’s OK too.
Does NATTER provide counselling or therapy?
No, the support NATTER provides is not the same as counselling or therapy. When you text NATTER, a volunteer will work with you to take you to a calmer moment and give you support and techniques to take your next steps to feeling better.
Some people might text NATTER more than once (and that’s OK), but the volunteers are trained to help you find techniques to handle future issues. NATTER can’t provide regular, ongoing support. If you need this kind of help, the NATTER volunteer may signpost you to other services or your GP.
If you text the service regularly (more than 20 engaged conversations in 60 days or 5 engaged conversations in 48 hours), NATTER will need to limit your conversations to one conversation every 48 hours. They’ll also direct you to NHS or specialist charities for further support.
Are my messages with NATTER confidential?
Yes – unless the volunteers or supervisors are concerned about someone’s safety. If they think you’re in imminent danger (or if you raise a safeguarding issue), the clinical supervisor will share your details with the emergency services (or appropriate authorities) to keep you safe.
If you’re in immediate danger of suicide or homicide, the first step will be for the volunteer and clinical supervisor to work with you to make a safety plan. If you’re unable to plan for your safety, the supervisor may contact the emergency services, who may dispatch a wellness check.
Can they delete my conversation from the system?
Yes. If you message 85258 with the word LOOFAH, they’ll remove your data from their system.
What mobile networks can you text NATTER from for free?
If you’re resident in the UK, you can text NATTER to 85258 from all major networks! It’s free and confidential to text NATTER from: EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone. These networks include: BT Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile, iD Mobile, Sky, Telecom Plus, Lebara, and GiffGaff.
It’s not possible to text NATTER from services that don’t let you message short codes. These include: Lyca mobile, Smarty, and EcoTalk.
About the volunteers
Who are the volunteers? Who makes sure they know what to say?
The volunteers are real adults who live in the UK or New Zealand. To become a volunteer, people have to go through a multi-stage application process and background checks. They also do 25 hours of online training. The training has video content and interactive exercises.
A clinical supervisor oversees every conversation. Clinical supervisors have Master’s degrees in a relevant field or a lot of crisis intervention experience.
Can I volunteer for NATTER?
Yes – if you’re at least 18, in the UK or New Zealand, and you have a secure internet connection and a computer. You can find out more about becoming a volunteer on the Shout website.